Pantawid Pamilya, the Philippines’ conditional cash transfer program (CCT) is one of the best-targeted social safety net programs in the world, benefitting the country’s poor and most vulnerable families.
In a media briefing, Ruslan Yemtsov, who led the preparation of the report The State of Social Safety Nets 2015 and World Bank Lead Technical Expert on Social Safety Nets, said that 82 percent of the benefits of the Philippines’ CCT program goes the bottom 40 percent of the Philippine population comprising the country’s poor households, as well as those that are highly vulnerable to poverty.
“Poverty in the Philippines is a dynamic phenomenon and many households move in and out of poverty during the year due to factors like calamities, droughts, or the advent of the lean seasons,” said Yemtsov. “The poor and vulnerable in the Philippines benefit from what is today one of the largest and best-targeted social safety net programs in the world.”
Social safety net programs include cash and in-kind transfers targeted to poor and vulnerable households, with the goal of protecting families from the impact of economic shocks, natural disasters, and other crises; ensuring that children grow up healthy, well-fed, and can stay in school and learn; empowering women and girls; and creating jobs.
According to The State of Social Safety Nets 2015, more than 1.9 billion people in 136 low- and middle-income countries benefit from social safety net programs. The report’s other findings include:
- CCT programs account for over 50 percent of the beneficiaries in social safety net programs, and are now present in 64 countries, a dramatic increase from two countries in 1997.
- CCT has major positive spillover effects on the local economy of target communities. Every dollar transferred to beneficiaries generates income ranging from US$1.34 to $2.52 to local communities (“multiplier effects”).
- Cash transfers boost school enrollment and attendance; increase live births in safer facilities; improve prenatal and postnatal care; promote regular growth monitoring of children during critically important early ages; and enhance food security.
In the Philippines, almost 4.5 million households are enrolled in the Pantawid Pamilya from only 360,000 households in 2008.
“The CCT grants, on average, only account for about 11 percent of the income of the poorest recipient households,” said World Bank Country Director Motoo Konishi. “Yet, for poor and vulnerable households the grants are very important. Two rounds of rigorous impact evaluation show that they use the money to buy food, school uniforms and school supplies for their children.”
The impact evaluation studies, according to Konishi, also show that CCT is delivering on its objectives: keeping poor children in school and healthy:
- Enrollment among poor elementary school children increased by 5 percentage points, while secondary education enrollment increased by 7percentage points.
- The program increased prenatal and postnatal care by 10 percentage points and increased the delivery of babies in health facilities by skilled health professionals by 20 percentage points.
- Children benefited by receiving higher intake of vitamin A and iron supplementation by around 12 percentage points and by increased weight monitoring visits to health facilities by 18 percentage points.
According to Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman, the government is currently updating the Listahanan, the program’s poverty targeting database, to ensure that CCT continues to respond to the needs of the country’s poor and vulnerable.
“As we speak, DSWD field workers are completing the data collection to update the database,” said Secretary Soliman. “As of August, we have collected data from almost 11 million households. The target is 15.3 million, or 75 percent of all households in the Philippines. This updated database of poor and vulnerable households across the country will be the basis to select the succeeding sets of CCT beneficiaries.”
“What is good about this program is that many sectors are watching: media, local government, civil society groups, local leaders, and policy makers,” Secretary Soliman added. “Their continuing feedback helps ensure improvements in the implementation of the program.”